The Type 96 MBT was developed from the NORINCO Type 85 series. It is the final development variant of the Chinese second-generation MBT programme.
The Type 96 is the final development variant of China’s second-generation main battle tank (MBT) programme. The tank was derived from the Type 85 MBT prototype, and is approaching the standard of the third-generation MBTs in certain aspects. Developed and built by China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO), the Type 96 is in service with the PLA and with the Pakistani Army. The PLA has reportedly received about 1,500~2,000 Type 96s by the end of 2005, and the production will continue for some years to come.
The Type 96 is replacing the ageing Type 59/69 series to become the PLA’s primary MBT, with over 1,500 examples delivered by 2005.
China began to develop its second-generation indigenous main battle tank (MBT) in the early 1980s, with two early variants Type 80 and Type 85 being introduced in 1988. While the Type 80 later entered service with the PLA as the Type 88, the Type 85 continued as an experiment research project by the NORINCO. The result of the 1991 Gulf War made the PLA realise that its existing second-generation MBT Type 88 was no match to Western designs. Because of the delay in the Chinese third-generation MBT programme, the PLA was left with no choice but to continue improving the Type 85 design.
The Type 85 prototype developed in the mid-1980s. The tank was based on the chassis of the Type 80, but fitted with a new welded turret.
A radically improved variant of the Type 85 known as Type 85IIM was introduced in the mid-1990s. This variant features a Chinese indigenous 125mm smoothbore main gun, which is fitted with an autoloader copied from the Russian 2A46 design. The tank also has enhanced armour protection, more sophisticated fire-control system, and night vision equipment. The Pakistani Army received several hundred of this variant in the late 1990s. A further improved variant Type 85-III with a 1,000hp diesel engine and explosive reaction armour (ERA) plates was introduced by NORINOC in 1995.
The Type 96 is approaching the standard of the third-generation Chinese MBTs such as Type 98 in fire-power and mobility.
The Type 85-III design received its design certificate in 1996, and was officially designated by the PLA as Type 96. The tank entered operational service with the PLA ground forces from 1997. The PLA had reportedly received over 1,500 examples of the Type 96 by 2005. Recent photos released by Chinese state media confirmed that all of the PLA’s elite armoured divisions are now equipped with the Type 96 MBT.
All of the PLA’s elite armoured divisions are now equipped with the Type 96 MBT.
It is somehow unusual for the PLA to receive two MBTs Type 96 and Type 98/99 at the same time. One possible explanation is that the Type 98/99, though exceeding the Type 96 in performance and technology, will only be equipped by s small number of the most elite units due to its high unit price. The Type 96, with its less sophisticated technology and therefore cheaper unit price, will be equipped in significant numbers to replace the ageing Type 56/69 series.
原型。80式底盘加上一个焊接炮塔。105毫米滑膛炮-Prototype. Type 80 chassis plus a welded turret. 105mm rifled main gun
-Improved variant with heat sleeve for main gun
改进型采用改进的火控系统-Improved variant with modified fire-control
采用自动装弹机的125毫米滑膛炮的第一种型号。对巴基斯坦外销。-First version with the auto-loading 125mm smoothbore gun. Export to Pakistan
为巴基斯坦的简化85IIM式改型-Simplified variant of the Type 85IIM for Pakistan
升级采用一台1,000马力柴油发动机。安装新的爆炸反应装甲（ERA）。只不过原型没有生产-Upgraded with a 1,000hp diesel engine. New explosive reactive armour installed. Prototype only with no production
85-III 式国内型，在PLA服役中。-Domestic version of the Type 85-III in use with PLA
The Type 96 uses a conventional layout with three crewmembers. The driver compartment is located at the front (left-side); the turret is mounted in the middle and the engine compartment in the rear. Suspension is of the conventional torsion bar type and there are six rubber-tyred roadwheels on each side, with the drive sprocket at the rear. The turret and hull are of all-welded steel armour construction.
The Type 96 the PLA’s first MBT that is fitted with a 125mm smoothbore gun and uses three-man crew with autoloader.
The Type 96 has an indigenous smoothbore 125mm/48-calibre gun with autoloader of Russian 2A46M design. By introducing the autoloader to reduce the crew to three men, more rounds are available for the higher rate of fire. The tank can carry 42 rounds, 22 of them stored in the carousel of the autoloader, and the gun can fire at 6~8 rounds per minute.
The main gun is capable firing APFSDS, HEAT, and HEAT-FRAG. The more recent BK-27 HEAT round offers a triple-shaped charge warhead and increased penetration against conventional armour and explosive reactive armour (ERA). The BK-29 round, with a hard penetrator in the nose is specially designed for use against reactive armour, and as an MP round has fragmentation effects.
The tank also carries the Russian 9M119 Refleks (NATO codename: AT-11 Sniper) anti-tank guided missile system which is fired from the 125mm main gun. The range of the missile is 100m to 4,000m. The system is intended to engage tanks fitted with ERA as well as low-flying air targets such as helicopters, at a range of up to 5km. China has been producing the 9M119 missile locally under license since the late 1990s.
坦克也携带俄国9M119 Refleks(北约代号: AT-11“狙击兵”)从125毫米主炮发射的反坦克导弹系统。导弹的射程是100米到4,000米。系统预定去交战配备有爆炸反应装甲（ERA）的坦克和低飞空中目标，像是直升飞机，在射程达到5公里。中国从1990年后期在国内许可之下已经生产9M119导弹。
The Type 96 is also fitted with the Russian-made 9M119 Refleks (NATO codename: AT-11 Sniper) gun-fired anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), or its Chinese licensed copy.
96式也配备有俄国制造的9M119 Refleks（北约代号：AT-11 “狙击兵”）炮射反坦克导弹（ATGM）,或它的中国获许可的仿造型。
Auxiliary weapons include one 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, with a maximum fire-range of 1,800 m and a fire rate of 250 rounds/min. A 12.7mm/50-calibre anti-aircraft machine gun is mounted on the command cupola, with a maximum fire-range of 2,000m.
FIRE CONTROL AND OBSERVATION
Fire accuracy is attained by an ISFCS-212 image-stabilised fire control system with laser rangefinder input. In addition, the tank may be fitted with GPS and infrared jamming/disturbing systems.
The hull and turret are protected by composite armour plating. Wheels and tracks are protected by rubber hull skirts. The turret is surrounded by storage racks are more of a Western design influence. Those storage racks not only offer extra places for the crew to store their equipment but it also provides additional protections against HEAT projectiles. There are six smoke grenade launchers on each side of the turret. Additional smoke can be generated by injecting diesel fuel in to the engine's exhaust.
The Type 96 has a combat weight of 42.5t. It is powered by a liquid cooled 1,000hp diesel engine, providing a power to weight ratio of about 23.52hp/ton. The engine can be replaced within 40 minutes in field conditions, and gives the tank a maximum road speed of 57km/h.
Weight: 42.5 tons
Engine: 1,000hp liquid-cooled diesel
Transmission: Mechanical, planetary
Track: Metallic with RMSh, with rubber-tyred road wheels
Suspension: Torsion bar
Radio: Receive/transmit, telephone
Dimension: Length: 10.65m; Height: 2.30m; Width: 3.30m
Cruising Range: 400km
Speed: Max road 65km/h
Fording Depths: N/A
Main Gun: 125mm smoothbore, 42 rounds
Rate of Fire: 6~8 rounds/min
Auxiliary Weapon: One coaxial 7.62mm machine gun; one 12.7mm air-defence machine gun
Fire Control: ISFCS with laser rangefinder input, onboard computer, wind sensor, and control panel
重量： 42.5 吨
发动机： 1,000 马力 水-冷柴油发动机
尺寸： 长度 10.65 米；高度： 2.30 米；宽度： 3.30 米
航程： 400 公里
速度： 最大道路 65 公里/小时
主炮： 125 毫米 滑膛炮，42发
辅助武器： 一挺同轴 7.62 毫米机枪；一挺 12.7 毫米防空机枪